Follow These Steps to Create Better and More Effective Landing Pages

Industrial marketers invest a lot of effort and resources into multichannel campaigns to drive customers and prospects to landing pages. In some ways, landing pages are simple, because they have only one goal: conversion. The overall purpose of a landing page is to entice your prospect to complete a form.

But earning conversions can be a challenge when prospects are hesitant to hand over information about themselves in exchange for your offer of a whitepaper, webinar, or other content.

Your job is to build enough trust and provide enough value that this exchange of information is a no-brainer for your prospect. Here’s how:

One campaign, one landing page

Each campaign should have its own landing page designed specifically for its target audience and associated offer. Avoid multi-purpose landing pages that serve several campaigns. Anything you do that detracts from a single campaign message can feel watered down, confusing, and lower your conversion rate.

Get right to the point

Your visitor has come to your landing page for a specific reason: to take advantage of your campaign offer. Make it as easy as possible for them by making it perfectly clear what they need to do.

All of your landing page choices should be focused on the desired prospect action. Tell them exactly what to do and why. Use clear, short headlines. Reinforce with benefit-oriented bullet points. Add large buttons with action verbs (Click Here, Download Now, Read the Report, etc.). Place the most important information at the top of the page.

Create continuity

To reassure visitors they have come to the right place, create continuity between elements of the campaign and the look of the landing page. Use the same or similar language, colors, fonts, and imagery.

This type of positive reinforcement adds to the professionalism of your landing page and increases the likelihood that your prospect will take the requested action.

Remove distractions

The landing page has only one purpose—to convert. That means you should remove everything from the page that doesn’t contribute to a conversion.

Some marketers may be tempted to add a second offer, in case the visitor isn’t interested in the main offer. Don’t – It’s distracting from your goal and will lead to landing page confusion.

Similarly, many people want to include multiple links to other parts of their website so that visitors can explore and/or get information. Avoid this, as it only gives visitors a reason to click away from the offer before converting.

Add trust marks

If you think a prospect might need a bit more convincing before converting, add trust marks to the landing page. These might be logos of other customers who use your products or a brief customer testimonial video. But don’t add anything that takes visitors away from the landing page or detracts from the main goal.

Keep forms as simple as possible

If you’ve done everything right and your prospect takes action to accept your offer, don’t annoy or discourage them by presenting a long, complicated form to fill out. If you do, your drop-off rate will likely be high.

Instead, ask for minimal information that allows you to identify the prospect and communicate with them. Name, company, and work email is all you really need.

As you begin a relationship with the prospect, you can fill in additional information. But for the landing page, minimal is best.

Don’t overlook the thank you page

If your prospect makes it as far as your thank you page, you’ve achieved your goal of conversion. Well done!

On the thank you page, you have another opportunity to gain and direct the interest of prospects. Here you can offer them links to content related to the offer they just accepted, such as articles, case studies, videos, and datasheets. You can offer them subscriptions to your newsletter or ask if they’d like someone from your company to contact them. Remember to only do this on the thank you page post-conversion, not the landing page itself.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to increasing conversions. Make sure to share your wins with us.

Web Sites – Design & Usability

What Engineers Want from Your Website

Collaboration

For any industrial company, your website is an important marketing asset. With engineers conducting the majority of their buying research online before contacting your company, a prospect is sure to visit your website in hopes of discovering information they are looking for.

If engineers find what they need, and if your products and services compare well against the competition, then you’ll likely generate a potential sales opportunity.

If your website falls short, you’ll miss out.

According to the research report, “Smart Marketing for Engineers,” produced by IEEE GlobalSpec and TREW Marketing, engineers want access to the basics on your website. They are looking, first and foremost, for technical content.

This audience is not as concerned with website bells and whistles. Items that an industrial marketer may view as a “must have” – pre-filled forms, interactive graphics, online chat, and more are not so special to engineers.

Get Technical, Get Specific

When asked what features of their favorite websites were most important to their experience, engineers overwhelming said in-depth technical information (81 percent) and technical specifications (75 percent).

The next closest were features to help configure products/systems (30 percent). Interestingly, only 11 percent said that a wide range of content was important to their experience.

The takeaway is clear: engineers want technical content specific to their need, and they don’t want other stuff getting in their way.

How to Structure Information

As for web usability, 75 percent of engineers prefer concise information with links to in-depth content, so they can drill down if needed. Forty-three percent want to see imagery/icons related to the content.

This puts the responsibility on you as a marketer to develop a logical taxonomy and clear hierarchy for organizing and presenting information on your website. The drill-down model works because you won’t overwhelm the engineer with too much information at once or confuse them by presenting secondary information before they are ready for it.

This type of information presentation makes sense. It somewhat mirrors the news story, inverted-pyramid approach, where the most important information is presented first, with secondary details to follow. The difference is that on the web, instead of writing a continuous narrative, you segment the content into discrete chunks users can access by clicking on links.

The Coveted Content

The content that engineers find most valuable when researching a product to purchase are datasheets, case studies, product demo videos and white papers.

You should have as much of this content as possible on your website. Whether you offer the content freely or keep it gated behind a form is a choice each company must make. But the majority of engineers are willing to provide work email, first name, company name, last name, job title, and industry in order to access content they deem valuable to them.

Don’t be afraid to put content behind forms—as long as the content is valuable. Engineers will trade their contact information for information that helps them.

Your Website Must Build Trust

Because most engineers are researching your offerings before contacting you, it’s important that your website helps to establish trust between your company and your potential customers.

When engineers were asked what causes them to lose trust in a company or brand after looking at their website, the top two answers were lack of technical information (69 percent) and lack of product information (50 percent), further reinforcing the need to have technical content on your website.

Other trust-eroding factors for engineers include getting no response after contacting a company and having no ability to contact a company for additional information.

You should have a contact link on every page on your website—and of course you should monitor and respond in a timely manner to any prospect that contacts you.

Keep it Simple

That’s the lesson here—your website should be simple. That lesson should also be encouraging to you. If you are struggling with limited resources (time, people, and budget), focus your website efforts on what will deliver the most value to your target audience. In this case, it is detailed, technical content that is easy to access and understand.

For a more in-depth look at engineers’ content, online and website preferences, along with survey results about an engineer’s buying journey, download your complimentary copy of the report “Smart Marketing for Engineers.”

Content Marketing Digital Media Marketing, General Web Sites – Design & Usability

Eight Features Every Manufacturer’s Website Must Have

clement-h-544786-unsplash.jpg

Most manufacturers deploy a multichannel marketing approach, and the one channel that remains at the top of their priority list is the company website. Your website was likely your first venture into digital marketing, and it’s the one place you can be sure every prospect visits to evaluate your company and offerings before making a purchase decision.

Without a website, you’re not in the game. And without a modern, high-performing website, you might be in the game, but you are most definitely losing out on potential business. To support your portfolio of marketing programs, promote a strong brand and compete for customers, make sure your website has these eight features.

1. Clear, Targeted Positioning

Your home page must clearly state who you are as a company, what you offer in way of products and services, and what kind of customer you are targeting. Some manufacturers make the mistake of going too “general” and trying to be all things to all people. Don’t be tempted to do this.

If a prospect lands on your home page and doesn’t immediately identify you as the kind of company that can meet their needs, they will click away and head to a competitor with more targeted positioning. If you want to draw them in, be clear, not all-encompassing.

2. Logical, Apparent Navigation

Customers and prospects come to your website to get something done: find products, discover helpful information, learn about your company and more. Create a clear navigational structure that can lead your audience to what they are trying to find. The key is to make things easy for your user.

Put navigation bars at the top. If you use drop-down menus, make sure they work in all browsers and environments. Repeat top-level navigation on the footer of every page to accommodate users who scroll down.

3. Landing Pages with Calls-to-Action and Conversion Forms

Your marketing efforts, such as banners, newsletter ads, social media posts, and search engine results should lead users to targeted landing pages on your website that reflect the message or offer that motivated them to click. Don’t send users to your home page.

A landing page should reinforce the offer you’ve made in your marketing—whether it’s a white paper, an article, a webinar, a demo or other—and include a simple conversion form to fill out if you are using gated content.

On conversion forms, ask only for the minimal information in order to start a dialog with a prospect. Usually, first and last name, company and email address are enough. You can fill in the rest of the information as you develop a relationship.

4. Optimized Web Pages

Search engine optimization (SEO) matters. Make sure that your page title and meta tags are appropriately filled out. Use alt-tags for every image. Use keywords in the text of web pages. Keep your page content fresh and up-to-date.

If you have a video that plays on a page, you can also provide a text script below, which provides another opportunity to include keywords. If possible, create easy and intuitive URLs for pages, which search engines prefer and are easier for users to copy and share.

5. Content, Content, Content

Having a lot of relevant, updated content is probably the most important aspect of a website. Not only do search engines favor it, but content is exactly what your visitors have come to your website to find.

Having trouble keeping up with content creation? Turn to your media partner for help. IEEE GlobalSpec provides turnkey content development from industry-leading subject matter experts. We handle everything for you—from content direction to writing, production and project management. Many types of content are available to meet your specific marketing needs, goals and objectives. Find out more here.

6. Testimonials and Case Studies

Speaking of content, don’t forget to showcase customer testimonials and case studies on your website. Prospects want to know what your customers have to say and who you are doing business with.

Possibilities include a web page listing your customers, video testimonials or in-depth case studies that follow the problem-solution-results model.

7. A Responsive Website Design

More and more visitors are using cell phones and tablets to access your website. Make sure your website has a responsive design that will ensure it renders well on the smaller screen of mobile devices. Otherwise, the text is too small, navigation gets buggy and users have to scroll in every direction to view a web page.

If you don’t have the budget or current architecture to create a responsive design for your entire site, pick a few key web pages and have them optimized for mobile devices.

8. Analytics

Every website needs an analytics package, whether it’s from Google or another provider. You can discover where visitors enter and leave your site, which pages are popular or not, how long users stay on a page, their navigation path through your website and much more. You need this data in order to implement changes that will continually improve your site and make it a winner in the marketplace.

Do you regularly invest time and resources into improving your website? Tell us how you plan to improve your website in 2019.

 

 

Marketing, General Web Sites – Design & Usability

How to Take Advantage of Mobile Trends in the Industrial Sector

While engineers still do the majority of their heavy-lifting work on desktop computers, their mobile usage is increasing, especially for reading emails and articles, and conducting product searches. This trend has real implications for industrial marketers, who must build and maintain a persistent digital presence.

According to the “Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” survey by IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions, engineers are using their mobile devices more often to search products, read news article, access work-related email, view supplier websites, and read e-newsletters. Smartphones are used more often than tablets for all work-related purposes.

Here are some tips you can follow to make sure that customers interacting with you on mobile get what they’re looking for.

Use a responsive design for your website and email.
A responsive design allows a website to be more easily viewed on smartphones and other mobile devices. According to Gorilla Group, 50% of all B2B companies have implemented a responsive design for their websites. That was almost double the percentage of sites with a responsive design in 2015 (26%). That trend will likely continue in 2017.

Research from Google shows that 57 percent of people say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed site. Forty percent have turned to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience.

If your business doesn’t have the time or resources for a website redesign, you can still make progress in the mobile arena. Seek out professionals to create campaign landing pages that are responsive in design, or choose a few key pages on your site that you can convert to responsive design. Work incrementally until it’s time for your next website overhaul.

The same holds true for making email responsive. If you are working with an email service provider, they probably offer responsive design email templates. Take advantage of them. Users are much more likely to delete an email that does not look good on their mobile device—and a lot more email is being read on mobile devices these days.

Create mobile-friendly content
Your marketing content should make an instant splash and be quickly understood by your audience. This is especially true on mobile devices where the screen real estate is so small.

Use strong headlines, scalable images and clear text. PDF content is notoriously difficult to read on mobile devices. Consider creating HTML versions of PDFs.
Videos tend to be mobile friendly and are popular with an engineering audience. Put them near the top of pages and emails so they are noticed right away on mobile devices.

Add click-to-call and click-to-chat features
What could be more user friendly than having a convenient click-to-call button on your website? It’s a great feature that allows you to take full advantage of the device in your customer’s hand at a specific moment in time. Click-to-chat is also an effective feature for mobile device users.

Take advantage of text marketing
While it’s not always easy getting customers and prospects to hand over their mobile numbers (think of using incentives and other value-added offers), marketing via text can be extremely effective.

According to SlickText, 99 percent of text messages are opened, and the average text marketing click-through rate is 36 percent, compared to 6-7 percent for email. You can do many of the same things through text as you can through email, as long as you keep your message short. Offer white papers, videos and other content that your audience is interested in.

If you want to improve your mobile marketing game, start by having a discussion with your media partners. Ask them in what ways they can help your marketing become more mobile friendly and help you take advantage of your audience’s growing use of mobile devices.

Mobile Marketing Web Sites – Design & Usability

5 Tips to Turn Your Website into a Customer Magnet

Technical professionals use a wide range of digital resources to search for suppliers, products and components. That’s why you need a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that creates a broad and deep online presence to connect with customers and prospects. Online catalogs, e-newsletters, webinars, social media, content marketing, search engine optimization and banner advertising all have a place in your marketing portfolio. At the hub of this interdependent marketing universe is your company website.

woman at laptop800

Driving customers and prospects to your website, and keeping them engaged once they get there, will help keep your audience connected to your brand and your company and products top of mind when customers are ready to buy. Here are the top tips for turning your website into a hub of productive customer activity.

1. Provide links to relevant pages
Use your other marketing channels, such as e-newsletter ads, social media or directory listings to drive technical professionals to specific pages on your website. It doesn’t have to be the home page, which is often a general page, but instead a page related directly to the message that motivated the click. It could be a custom landing page or another page that resides deeper in your site. For example, an e-newsletter ad or a directory listing for a specific product should link to a landing page about that product. A social media entry can link to your latest blog post.

2. Give reasons to explore
If a customer lands on a page other than your home page, make it easy to explore related content. You can do this by providing clear and simple navigation options and by grouping related content so that it’s easy to find. Secondary content columns can show related links, such as white papers related to the page topic or links to complementary products or services. From any page a visitor should be no more than one click away from accessing your contact information. A search box can help visitors find exactly what they’re looking for.

3. Offer more
Encourage your audience to stay engaged with your brand. Try these tactics: Offer downloads (with or without registration forms, depending on your strategy), invite customers to follow you on social media or subscribe to your newsletter, add polls or short surveys to solicit their opinions and collect useful data, and prompt technical professionals to view archived webinars or read your latest piece of thought leadership. Try adding live chat functionality or creating a discussion area for customers to interact with each other or your subject matter experts. Some visitors will naturally explore your site once they arrive, but most will need to be encouraged and offered information they find valuable.

4. Keep updating
Why does anyone visit a website on a regular basis? Answer: Because there’s something new to discover. Outdated or stale content will drive your audience away and can even damage your reputation and brand. Make a focused effort to keep content fresh and to add new content on a regular basis. The weekly blog post, the monthly webinar, the new offer—promote these items in e-mails and on social media to entice your customers and prospects back to your site on a regular basis. Also, you should audit your existing website content at least twice a year for accuracy and currency, and purge or update any content that is outdated or no longer relevant.

5. Be responsive
More and more technical professionals are using mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones for work-related purposes, but not all websites render well on mobile devices. If your site is too difficult to use on a mobile device, your customer might click away. The next time you’re refreshing or replacing your website, create a website that is “responsive” in design, which means that navigation and pages will automatically render in a way that optimizes the experience on a mobile device. At the least consider creating responsive landing pages that are tied to marketing campaigns such as e-newsletter ads or white paper offers.

Your company website shouldn’t be your only marketing channel, but it can serve as the hub for your marketing strategy. Your goals should be to drive customers to your site, give them reasons to stay, and motivate them to engage with you.

If this article was helpful to you, please spread the word by using the share buttons below.

What tips would you add to turn a website into a magnet? What advice would you give to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Content Marketing Demand Generation Digital Media Web Sites – Design & Usability

3 Questions to Ask Before Your Next Website Redesign

As industrial professionals increasingly rely on the Internet to perform key job responsibilities, it’s critically important that your website is meeting their expectations and delivering the information they need quickly and efficiently. If not, you may be missing out on valuable opportunities to connect and engage with your target audience.

At IHS GlobalSpec, we recently completed a redesign of our GlobalSpec.com website. Based on our experiences and understanding our goal of delivering an exceptional user experience, here are three key questions you need to ask yourself before you start your next website redesign.

Are you delighting your users?
It’s a pretty simple formula but worth recognizing before making any changes to your website. If you make it easy for your website visitors to find what they want, they will build a trust with you and rely on your site for future needs. This allows you to build stronger relationships with your audience and create deeper engagement opportunities.

Industrial professionals rely on GlobalSpec.com as a key resource for finding and discovering the products and services they need to do their jobs. For the site redesign, our focus was to further simplify this product and information discovery process. We wanted to make it even easier, faster and more efficient for our audience to learn about suppliers and find products and services.

We accomplished this through enhanced search features, more prominent filtering options and a streamlined structure and design.

For your website, another key resource for industrial professionals during their research and discovery phase is the important information about your products and services. Can your visitors quickly learn about your company and what you have to offer?

By delivering an outstanding and intuitive user experience, you will be better positioned to connect with your target audience and generate demand opportunities.

Are you taking advantage of advancements in web design?
New developments in website design may seem to come fast and furious and it can be difficult to keep up all of these advancements. But remember, you don’t need to chase every shiny nickel that rolls down the sidewalk. You will only want to implement new technologies if they enhance the user experience and help you accomplish your business objectives.

For the redesigned GlobalSpec.com, keeping in mind the goal of a faster and easier product search and discovery process, we implemented enhancements that helped us reach those objectives.

  • Mega menus are a great way for website users to navigate a website especially if you have several product categories and subcategories. With one or two clicks from any page on your website, your audience can find the information they need and you have begun to build a trust with them.
  • Using auto complete to offer suggestions as a user enters a keyword in your search box is a popular and convenient way to help your audience quickly find that they need. Type in the first couple of letters of a product or service in the search box on GlobalSpec.com and you’ll start receiving suggested matches. Keep typing and these suggestions are further refined.
  • Since searching is the primary way industrial professionals navigate GlobalSpec.com, we made our search results pages even more powerful. Now after an initial search, our audience can filter their results by including additional criteria by text or by following links to relevant product categories.

Why did we choose to include these features into the website design? It’s true that some other sites had incorporated these functions and, from a web technology perspective, this was “pretty cool stuff.” But that’s not the criteria to consider considering when changing your website. These features enhanced the user experience and matched our goal of delivering an even easier and more intuitive search and discovery process.

Does your search function meet your visitors’ expectations?
Search is not only the main method for our audience to find their way through GlobalSpec.com. It is the preferred behavior of most web users to navigate websites. Years ago, you found information on the Internet through directories. Think back to how Yahoo! was first structured. A web page presented several category links and you clicked on the one you thought was the most relevant for your search. Then you were likely presented with another page of links to help further refine your search. It was a clunky way to find information and could be rather confusing if your perspective of the information you needed wasn’t aligned with the directory structure.

The Internet has thankfully evolved and search has replaced directories as its main navigation tool. Search functionality continues to improve and drive efficiencies and is now a necessary and critical component in the user experience for virtually any website.

How is the search functionality on your website? Have your search capabilities matured to match the expectations of your site visitors? Is the search feature on your site delivering relevant information quickly and efficiently? Those are questions to ask yourself as you consider your next website redesign.

If this article was helpful to you, please spread the word using the share buttons below.

Are you in the midst of a website redesign or planning to start one? What questions are you asking yourself? How focused are you on your user’s experience, advances in web design or search functionality? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Web Sites – Design & Usability

5 Website Elements to Help Manufacturers Capture Engagement Opportunities

Industrial buying activity is moving online. Recent research found that 90 percent of industrial purchases are now researched, evaluated and selected online. The uptick in online activity means that manufacturers need to step up their online game.

These days, most manufacturers understand that building an online presence is becoming increasingly important. But just being online isn’t enough. To truly capitalize on the online opportunity — and generate more engagement opportunities — manufacturers need to build-in website elements that meet buyer expectations.

I’d like to share five tips that manufacturers can use to improve their website and capture more engagement opportunities.

1. Structure Your Website to Mirror the Industrial Buying Cycle
The first thing to understand about building a website for the manufacturing industry is that the e-commerce model popularized by online retailers doesn’t work in the manufacturing industry. This is because the industrial buying process is an order of magnitude more complex than a retail purchase — and there are many more individuals (CFOs, engineers, etc.) involved in the purchasing process.

For this reason, Jared Fabac, eSystems Architect of Idea Bright Marketing, believes that a website should mirror the four steps of industrial sales:

  1. Discovery – Site visitors are just starting their research process and are trying to find companies that make what they need.
  2. Research – Visitors are looking for information on product specs, operations procedures and materials used.
  3. Sourcing – Individuals are ready to see detailed pricing and want schematics to ensure that your product works with what they’re building.
  4. Procurement – This will usually happen offline.

2. Immediately Communicate What You Do
When visitors first come to your website, they make a very quick decision as to whether you’re able to serve their needs. You have roughly five seconds to communicate what you do. If it isn’t immediately apparent what you make, then they’re likely to leave and look for somewhere that makes it easier on them to research.

One company that I think does a good job of showing off what they do right up front is Mettler-Toledo Process Analytics. The company’s homepage immediately shows exactly what they make and gives access to a detailed product catalog where more information can be gleaned.

3. Allow Side-by-Side Product Comparisons
Once visitors have browsed your product catalog, they will likely to want to compare multiple products to help narrow down the field of options. At this point, buyers are moving out of the discovery process and into the research phase. As such, they’re looking for basic product specifications, material type and other related information. At this point in the process, visitors should be able to use your website to compare three to five products side-by-side to help them understand their options.

4. Provide Detailed Information at the Product Level
Providing the right kind of content for Steps 1 and 2 of the buying process is core and critical. Getting this content right is what keeps visitors on your website. But having them stay on your website isn’t the same thing as turning them into an engagement opportunity. This means it’s essential to meet buyer expectations when they’re ready to enter the sourcing stage. One of the biggest mistakes that manufacturers make today is not providing enough information about their products. Failing to provide the right detail of information can make the difference between a visitor and an opportunity.

So what do buyers expect at this phase? In addition to wanting side-by-side comparisons in an online product catalog, buyers want to be able to drill down and access granular information individuals products. For instance, if you’re selling clip nuts, they want to know about the panel thickness, what material it’s made out of and the product grip range. They also want detailed measurement and schematics of the product.

Once your visitors are at this phase, you should also place a call to action (CTA) to allow visitors to request more information. This gives the visitor an opportunity to tell you how they plan to use your product. It also allows them to give their contact information so you can follow-up and let them know how you can meet their needs.

5. Allow CAD Files to be Downloaded
It’s also a great idea to provide downloadable CAD files. Providing this information helps attract visitors that are even further along in the sales cycle as it is some of the most detailed specifications that you have available. The visitors that request a CAD file are generally trying to double-check whether your product will fit the model that they’re building out.

Making this information available helps dramatically speed up the research process (and sales cycle) by saving the buyer the trouble of having to rebuild a CAD drawing from your product measurements. This information, however, should not be given away without capturing buyer information. The reason: the majority of the time, this person is ready to buy. They’re essentially at the last step before they’re ready to procure so it’s important to make sure that you can follow up with them and nurture the opportunity.

These are a few of the ways that manufacturers can go from just having a website to having one that can generate engagement opportunities. If you’re interested in reading more about these tips, and seeing a few examples of effective websites, please visit Software Advice where you can find the original article.

Industrial Marketing and Sales Web Sites – Design & Usability

Tough Questions Marketers are Asking About Their Websites

As online destinations become increasingly popular for engineering, technical, manufacturing, and industrial professionals to research work-related purchases, industrial suppliers and service providers are asking themselves tough questions in order to create an exceptional user experience and drive contacts and inquiries.

Tim Carroll, GlobalSpec’s Vice President of Website Management and User Marketing, tackles some of the pressing issues industrial marketers are facing with their websites.

1. Is it a good practice to require visitors to our website to register before accessing or viewing product information?
Generally I don’t recommend requiring registration on a site intended to provide information about just your company’s product or service offerings. Placing a registration form is an obstacle for a visitor who is in search of information that may lead to a buying decision. It comes with the risk that the visitor will retreat for alternative sources that do not require the time needed to enter contact and personal information just to access specs, application information, videos, and other information important to the buying decision. If capturing a visitor’s contact information is a strategy for growing your marketing or cold-calling list, our recommendation is to limit registrations to technical white papers, additional research, archived presentations such as Webinars, and other productivity tools. A “Request for Quotation” (RFQ) form and e-newsletter sign-ups are other smethods to capture a visitor’s contact information.

2. Our customers sometime complain that information about our products is difficult to locate. What are some best practices we should consider for making our product information easy to find?
Users will try one of two ways to locate information about your company, products, or services: search or browse. Search is dependent on rich content in order to find pages that are pertinent. Make sure pages that offer information about your products and services are rich with relevant keywords such as specs and text-based descriptions. Be sure your product pages use words and expressions that are consistent with the terminology commonly used by your target audience. Avoid internal jargon and code names that only those in your company will understand. Browsing is a bit different in that it is not based on what’s seen on a page, but instead is based on where links or navigation buttons are programmed to go. But the same logic applies. Be sure to use link names and buttons that are consistent with the terminology used by your target audience. Links and navigation buttons should use clear and commonly-used words and expressions to describe where it will take your visitor on your site.

3. What type of product information is typically most important to offer technical specifiers?
The most important product information to offer professionals who are sourcing industrial or technical products or services is specifications. Product specs should be presented with, at the very least, an optional view for a tabular format. This format helps users easily scan large amounts of detailed specs rather than read through paragraphs of text. It also makes comparing specs across similar products much simpler. However, providing summary descriptions on the product page is also helpful for the visitor to learn about a product, especially when researching a company or service offering for the first time. It’s also important when listing specs to include images and drawings (when applicable) of the products or services you’re describing. These are key pieces of information that your visitors will need as part of the evaluation process. Other types of information that your customers and prospects would appreciate are performance-related graphs and charts, application suggestions, cross-reference charts, video demos, CAD files, and, when applicable, pricing and availability.

4. We manufacture mechanical components used in power transmission. Our customers often ask us to list our product unit pricing on our website. But our policy is to avoid pricing on our website out of concern that our competitors will use this information to outbid us on RFQs. How do other manufacturers in other industries deal with this dilemma?
This has long been a dilemma for many in the industrial and technical sectors. The answer might rest more on your products or services than any other factor. Suppliers in some product/service segments freely list their pricing, while others wouldn’t think of it for fear that they’ll miss the opportunity to negotiate their way into a sale. The best advice we can give for those who are feeling pressure from their customers and prospects to list pricing is to highlight that this is only the list price and that volume discounts or a negotiated price may be available. Of course, this approach may not be right for all companies, but we generally err on the side of giving users more information for their buying decisions.

5. GlobalSpec does quite a bit of research within the buying community; can you share some findings from your research that might offer some common behaviors or preferences of this audience that might help us design a better site?
The behavior of the buyers and specifiers in the industrial and technical sector who visit your website vary from company to company. However, there are some common behavioral traits we observe when conducting research. Visitors generally like to look through information from a high level first and then work their way to a lower, more detailed level. This allows them to see all of their options, which gives them a sense that they’re not missing a better solution. Visitors also tend to heavily prefer and utilize visual cues when searching for information. High-quality images of products or processes, text highlighting (using bold for important text, larger font for section headers, etc.), and page graphics are generally much preferred over pages that are comprised of heavy blocks of text. These visual cues will go a long way when steering a user down your intended path toward the content that’s of value and making that content more engaging.

6. There are many in our company who feel that making CAD files available to the public on our website is a dangerous practice due to the proprietary nature of the information. However, clients are telling us they expect that of our site, and many of our competitors are moving in that direction. Is the ability to view or download drawings or models a necessary feature?
This one is similar to the previous question on pricing. We understand that not all companies want their CAD files accessible by just anyone. But we must recognize that in the digital information age making more information available is necessary to stay competitive. In other words, by withholding information, you run the risk of customers and prospects leaving your site for a competitor and finding a product with an acceptable fit, all because they had instant access to the drawings/models on your competitor’s site. Again, the trend is to arm the buyer with as much information as necessary in order to make a buying decision. In most industrial and technology segments, making your CAD files accessible through your website is a good strategy. If making full CAD files available is not an option, consider making available models that include only sufficient envelope dimensions and tolerances of your products, but do not include every detail and feature offered in a CAD file. In most cases this higher level of detail will provide specifiers the information they need to evaluate design fit but won’t present a threat of compromising proprietary information.

Tim Carroll is the Vice President of Website Management and User Marketing at GlobalSpec. He has more than 20 years of professional experience in marketing management, product and brand management, product development, and strategic business planning. Tim’s career has spanned across many industries including consumer goods, business services, online media, and B-to-B information services. During his tenure at GlobalSpec, Tim has led product development teams responsible for three major site redesign projects, development of several Web-based and e-mail-based content delivery products, and execution of hundreds of market research studies across methodologies, including website usability testing, qualitative interviews and focus groups, quantitative surveys, and live site A/B conversion optimization testing.
 

Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing, General Web Sites – Design & Usability

Why You Need More Than a Good Web Site

In any industry today, you want a robust, full-featured Web site complete with intuitive navigation, detailed product information, up-to-date content, and offers that help you capture qualified leads. It’s a basic requirement in this digital age. Yet having a great Web site isn’t enough. By itself, your Web site will not lift you above competitors and connect you with potential customers. Why not?

Because in the industrial sector, your target audience and customers use a variety of online sources to seek out suppliers, products, and information. Yes, your company Web site is one of those sources — and an important source — but it’s not the only one, and usually not the first one potential customers find.

The Buy Cycle Determines Information Sources
According to the GlobalSpec Industrial Buy Cycle Survey, supplier Web sites are the least used information source during the early stages of the industrial buy cycle, when buyers are defining their requirements, conducting research, and identifying vendors who might be able to meet their needs.

During these early stages buyers use a wide range of information sources including general search engines, online catalogs, GlobalSpec.com, e-newsletters, social media, and others. It’s only in the later stages of the buy cycle, when buyers are comparing vendors and making their final purchase decision, that supplier Web sites become animportant information source.

Build Your Online Presence
The conclusion to draw is that you need a broad, yet focused online presence to be found in the early stages of the buy cycle; otherwise, your company will not make a buyer’s short list in the later stages of the cycle and you could miss an opportunity to win new business. A broad presence means you can be found in a variety of information sources. A focused presence means these information sources are used by the target audience you are trying to connect with.

Consider, for example, these marketing ideas:
• Placing advertisements in targeted industrial e-newsletters that with a single click send customers to your Web site to take advantage of an offer for a white paper or Webinar.
• Building a presence on specialized search engines and directories such as GlobalSpec where, during the early stages of their buy cycle, engineers and technical buyers seek out suppliers, products, and services that meet their needs.
• Promoting your brand and products using online banner ads on a network of industrial-related Web sites, again sending interested prospects back to your Web site with a single click.
• Participating through sponsorship in online events such as virtual conferences where you can establish your company’s reputation as a leader and showcase your entire portfolio of products and services.
• Teaming up with a leading online media company that is focused on the industrial sector to produce and promote an educational Webinar directed at the audience you want to attract.
• Increasing social media initiatives such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and blogs to help your company become a trusted and valuable resource for buyers.
• Producing short video segments such as executive interviews, technical advice/how-to’s, or customer case studies and posting them on YouTube where you can take advantage of features such as adding keywords that are relevant to the content and your offerings.

Each of these tactics can help expand your online presence, which will increase your opportunities to be in front of buyers during the early stages of the buy cycle. Then, once you are found, you can drive qualified traffic to your Web site and wow prospects with the breadth and depth of the information and offers you make available to them. But remember, they won’t come to your Web site unless you help get them there.
 

Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing, General Web Sites – Design & Usability

Five Tips for a Better Web Site — And Five Mistakes to Avoid

Virtually every industrial company has a Web site today, but what you need is a really good Web site that engages your audience and keeps them coming back.

The most recent GlobalSpec survey shows an increase in the amount of time people are spending online for work-related purposes. 48% of respondents spend 6 or more hours per week on the Internet for work, and 28% reported spending over 9 hours — that’s clearly a significant amount of time. They are spending their time online looking for information about suppliers, products, components, and services.

If you can improve your site you will better meet the information needs of your audience of engineering and technical professionals, be able to answer their questions, and improve your opportunities to capture their contact information for lead generation.

Here are five tips that will help better your Web site:

1. Offer detailed product information. Your prospects have problems to solve and are hungry for information that will help them: product specifications, technical data sheets, application notes, and more. Feed your prospects, show them how your products can help solve their problems. Fill your Web pages with detailed product information and downloadable PDFs.

2. Present a strong, clear message on every page. Not just your home page, but every page on your site should have your logo and a clear statement that lets visitors know who you are and what they will find. Remember, visitors don’t only come to your home page. Often they will arrive somewhere deeper in your site. It’s important they discover quickly who you are and what you have to offer, or they will abandon your site and go elsewhere.

3. Provide consistent navigation and page design. You want visitors to get immediately comfortable on your site and find what they are looking for. Your navigation bar should appear in the same place on every page, usually horizontally across the top or vertically along the side. Some companies use both — a global top navigation on all pages and a secondary navigation bar for specific site sections. Expanding menus on the navigation bar help users delve deep into your site with a single click. Also, establish basic page designs for your Web pages and stick with the model. Make sure your headings, font size and typeface are consistent too.

4. Include offers and landing pages. Offers to download white papers, register for Webinars, and view demonstrations are a great way to capture contact information from prospects as well as educate them on industry issues and provide solutions to their challenges. Sprinkle offers on relevant pages throughout your Web site and send prospects to specific landing pages that describe the offer in more detail and capture prospect information that can become a lead for your sales team.

5. Provide new forms of interactive content. Video on Web sites has become very popular and is easy to create. Post videos of product demonstrations or interviews with industry experts or product managers. Add a blog to your site and invite visitors to leave comments. Launch an online community where customers and prospects can interact with your team and each other. These types of features enrich your Web site, keep content fresh, and make your audience feel included.

Now, five things to avoid on your Web site:

1. Excessive use of Flash. Flash takes time to load on your page and often lacks substance. Also, Flash doesn’t even render on devices such as the Apple iPad, and that will result in a blank area on your Web page. Prospects aren’t looking for fancy stuff… they’re looking for answers, and the quicker you can provide them, the better your chances of connecting with them.

2. Out-of-date content. Old and out-of-date information reflects poorly on your company. It can damage your reputation and leave a bad impression on customers and prospects. Make sure product pages are current. If you post press releases, be sure to have some up-to-date news. Your most recent e-newsletter shouldn’t be a year old. Purging old content and adding new content should be a regular part of your Web site management activities.

3. Bad writing. Another poor reflection on your company is bad writing, grammatical errors, and other mistakes. Proofread all pages. Write in a simple and straightforward style. Keep paragraphs short. Use bulleted lists and headlines. Remember that visitors scan for information on Web pages as opposed to reading from top to bottom.

4. Lengthy registration forms. Of course you want to capture prospect information, but lengthy registration forms with many required fields are a turn off. Just collect the basics from visitors, such as name, company, and e-mail. If you begin a relationship with the prospect, you can collect additional information later.

5. Broken links. Anyone who has clicked on a link and gotten the 404 error that the Web page cannot be found can’t help but feel disappointed. Broken links also bring search engine crawlers to a halt. Sometimes when you change a page name or move a page to another location you create a cascading effect of broken links. Most software used to develop and maintain Web sites will produce a report of broken links. Run the report often or test your site regularly.
 

Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing, General Web Sites – Design & Usability